Forest spring

Spring arrives in ‘my’ forest.

I often ramble along the forested hillside above our home – and often write about it – and this morning I had an opportunity for a quick walk before heading to work. It was a beautiful sunny morning, with temp in the high 30s, as I strode quickly up the steep slopes toward the ‘summit’ of this little hill. As I approached the top, a deer leaped across the path and down through the trees to my right – exactly the same place I’d seen deer several times before, and shared a video with you. A nice way to start the day.

Near the road, a spot that gets a bit more sunshine due to the gap in trees, I found spring’s first Trillium.

On my way down I passed a vernal pool I know well. It had been rather dull and quiet – but this week seems to have burst forth with new green.

I’ll keep an eye on it, as more vegetation emerges over the next few weeks, as the amphibians emerge, and as local critters visit for a drink or a snack. I made many visits to this pool last spring.

Blowdowns and pools

Vernal pools appear.

My weekend wanderings through the woods near home allowed me more glimpses of the white-tailed deer living therein – emphasis on the white tail, because I only tend to spot them after they’ve chosen to bound away from me, white tail flashing and leaping through the trees until they fade into the distant brownness of the tree bark and leaf litter. Yesterday I saw them three times, though never with enough time to capture with a camera. Saturday I also saw a big ol’ turkey waddling off into the bushes.

Several of my favorite paths pass by vernal pools – intermittent shallow pools formed by spring rains and snowmelt, on deep-frozen ground not yet ready to absorb the moisture. Not much spring life there yet, but I’ll check again next week. (Last year these pools became active in May.)

So, photographically, all I have to share this week is another “new” thing along my path. It was very windy last week and this hemlock snapped off at the base. When a tree like this falls in the woods; do you think the deer hear it? 😉

Vernal pool redux

Repeat visits over five weeks.

Last month I wrote a short note about the spring phenomenon of vernal pools, which can often be found in pretty, magical glens in the midst of the forest. Since then I have made repeated visits to that same small, shallow vernal pool located just a ways up the hill behind our house. I’ve photographed it from the same vantage point just to see how it evolves over time. Although these photos were taken at different times of the day, in different lighting, and not on a regular schedule, it’s interesting to see the succession of plant life as the pool dries.

June 14: A vernal pool near home.

Vernal pool

An ephemeral opportunity.

Today was my second visit to a vernal pool in three days. These small empheral pools appear for only a few weeks in the spring (hence the name), typically in shallow depressions that capture snowmelt and early spring rains. They serve as an important breeding ground for frogs, salamanders, and other amphibians… and then disappear for the summer.

This vernal pool, near home, has grown in with moss and grasses.

Today, as I strolled along the fading skidder trails that lace the patch of forest above my home – an area I tend to explore when under winter’s deep snowpack, as I did back at the beginning of February – I was surprised to see I was not the first to visit this pool today.

A mossy tree stump served as someone’s dinner table.

Let’s take a closer look. This tree stump was covered in feathers – very fresh feathers. I’m assuming some carnivore – a fox, perhaps? – had used the stump as a dining table for consuming an unlucky member of the local avian population.

Curiously, the feathers were on the stump – and only on the stump.